Peaceful protest planned after TV station calls refugees a health risk

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A Fargo TV station is getting flack from community members after airing a story that said that refugees were bringing a risk of tuberculosis to the area.

The "investigation" said that "everyone, U.S. born or foreign born, who lives in a refugee resettlement area is at risk for contracting tuberculosis."

The CBS and NBC affiliated station received criticisms from viewers, other news sources and health professionals, and some planned a peaceful protest for Sunday afternoon.

"We find Valley News Live’s ... report on Health risks of resettlement including rising rates of tuberculosis infection to be provocative and fabricated to garner hatred and fear among our fellow-community members," the groups planning the protest said in a release. "In addition, the station purposely insulted viewers reporting the story to be pretentious. This demonstrates a flagrant disregard for journalistic integrity, and a violation of basic journalism principles."

They added that refugees and immigrants go through "stringent" medical screenings before getting admitted to the United States.

The "investigation," which aired on May 16, cited the group "Judicial Watch," which is a conservative organization that is against Obama's refugee resettlement efforts and filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in opposition. Valley News Live failed to point out Judicial Watch's history and positions with refugee-related issues.

Dr. John Baird, health officer at Fargo-Cass Public Health, told the Fargo Forum (which owns competing TV station WDAY) that the Valley News Live story was wrong, adding that refugees do not pose a public health risk with tuberculosis and that it is not a major problem for the community.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said that North Dakota had one of the lowest rates of tuberculosis in the country in 2015, with only nine active cases (1.19 cases per 100,000 residents).

Minnesota had 150 cases in 2015 (2.73 cases per 100,000 residents) but is still below the national average.

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